Travel firms are often badly advised about their travel technology needs by advisors who are not sufficiently technically minded, according to one leading supplier.
Codegen, which supplies its TravelBox solution to travel companies including Virgin Holidays and Monarch Group among others, believes a lack of strategic strategy is why a lot of travel IT projects go wrong.
Bharat Patel commercial director at Codegen, said too often firms are blinded by the science and lose sight of the strategic control of the technology project they are working on.
He said: “Where a lot of these projects go wrong is the buying decisions are made by the directors but the actual decisions are made on the ground floor.This leads to a strategic divergence between the project’s intentions and what is actually implemented.”
Patel said there needs strong strategic control to ensure an IT project doesn’t just become a replication of an old system.
Monarch Group distribution director Stuart Jackson told Travolution how it is using the implementation of Travelbox to underpin a fundamental transformation in how the organisation operates and a modernisation of its various divisions.
Patel said: “If you bring an outsider in with some technological savvy they will be able to make the right decisions with you. You see so many poor consultants who are features-led. For Monarch using Travelbox means they can choose the way they approach their business. The benefit we had working with Monarch was their consultants were not entrenched in a way of working.”
Codegen believes it is now reaping the rewards from its decision to base its technology on the Linux open source platform from the outset when it was established in 1999.
Patel said the firm came from outside of the industry and although there was initial resistance to its approach the web and Java has now come to dominate more traditional forms of travel IT architecture.
“We started off with a standard version based on open source because all our guys did not like Microsoft. They also wanted to be independent, they did not want to be tied down to a particular vendor,” he said. With the stability and power of Oracle sitting behind Codegen, it believes it has the ability to scale up and has done tests to give it the confidence it can cope with large numbers.
Patel said Codegen has a very clear focus on research and development at its headquarters in Colombo, Sri Lanka where it employs nearly 200 people, including a number of PhD students.
“A lot of people build technology based on what they learn, but we test out new technology. Our R&D is active 24/7, whether it’s client-led or not.
“We work very closely with universities. They can implement what we are doing in their research. You have to be a true technology person to understand the latest technology, you need academic people to go into research papers to find out what this is all about.”
Codegen says its technology is particularly suited to large tour operators and that it gives them the flexibility to operate as a traditional package supplier but also more dynamically creating product and offers on the fly.
The TravelBox system can sit behind all divisions bringing efficiencies in terms of product loading and better more integrated management information.
A recent innovation known as Wide Search allows the user to switch seamlessly between various booking flows, whether that’s traditional packages, pre-packages or flexible packages, allowing agents to tailor trips without moving between systems.
Wide Search is helping Codegen to hone its mobile offering which uses artificial intelligence aimed at generating more relevant, personalised offers for its customers’ customers.
The firm is also looking to exploit voice search and the new generation HTML5 interface as mobile continues to establish itself as a vital channel for travel firms.
“We want to be in a position to be there when the next big thing comes along,” said Patel. “People are becoming more adaptable to technology. The whole mobility side has opened up a lot of avenues. We have devices around us all the time now.
“Business are still 80:20 when it comes to technology and innovation – they want to make sure they protect their core business first. They do not want to be the pioneer. CodeGen brings strong basics and does the pioneering for them.
“New entrants come in with a technology background and some marketing and sometimes they fall down because they have not got the travel experience. “We see ourselves as innovators and innovators are looking beyond today, they are not stuck looking at the present because if you do that in the IT world you will never survive.”